1 July 2015

Mixed Signals – What are you really telling your dog?

Sometimes, your actions can speak louder than your words. Dogs are pretty clever; they learn that some actions mean certain things. For example, they know that when you pick up their leash, it’s time to go for a walk. But what if you are doing things that send the wrong message to your pooch? What are you really telling your dog?

Your dog is the boss

While you wouldn’t just say that your dog is in charge, your actions could be saying just that. Are you letting your dog walk ahead of you when you go up or down stairs, letting him pull you along when you take walks, or letting him in or out when he barks? Do you give him attention when he requests it?

These may all seem like small behaviours, but they add up. Letting your dog’s behaviour dictate your response can result in giving your dog the “top dog” role in the relationship, and that’s not good for either of you.

Setting a bad example

If you don’t want your dog to do something, you should take care not to exhibit that behaviour yourself. For example, if you don’t want your dog digging up your yard, don’t demonstrate this behaviour by gardening in front of him.

If you don’t want your dog to chew on your expensive loafers, don’t give him an old, worn out shoe to chew on. And, if you don’t want your pet to beg for scraps, don’t give him the odd piece off of your plate.

Be sure that the other members of the family follow the same rules. Dogs actually want to be led, but they need clear, consistent leaders to teach them the rules and demonstrate leadership.

All noise and bluster, no lessons learned

Correcting your dog’s behaviours requires clarity and guidance, not yelling and reacting. Dogs learn best when you’re acting like a confident leader--calm, quiet, and non-reactive.

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